privacy

23 posts
U.S. military buys location data from apps

Joseph Cox, reporting for Motherboard: Some app developers Motherboard spoke to were not aware who their users’ location data ends up with, and even if a user examines an app’s privacy policy, they may not ultimately realize how many different industries, companies, or government agencies are buying some of their most sensitive data. U.S. law enforcement purchase of such information has raised questions about authorities buying their way to location...

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Student surveillance and online proctoring

To combat cheating during online exams, many schools have utilized services that try to detect unusual behavior through webcam video. As with most automated surveillance systems, there are some issues. For The Washington Post, Drew Harwell looks into the social implications of student surveillance: Fear of setting off the systems’ alarms has led students to contort themselves in unsettling ways. Students with dark skin have shined bright lights at their...

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Blacklight, a tool to see how the websites you visit are tracking you

Companies are tracking what you do online. You know this. But it can be a challenge to know the extent, because the methods are hidden on purpose. So The Markup built Blacklight: To investigate the pervasiveness of online tracking, The Markup spent 18 months building a one-of-a-kind free public tool that can be used to inspect websites for potential privacy violations in real time. Blacklight reveals the trackers loading on...

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Randomization to preserve anonymity

Adam Pearce and Ellen Jiang for Google’s PAIR, explain how granular data can lead to easy identification of individuals and how randomization can help: Aggregate statistics about private information are valuable, but can be risky to collect. We want researchers to be able to study things like the connection between demographics and health outcomes without revealing our entire medical history to our neighbors. The coin flipping technique in this article,...

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Hidden trackers on your phone

Sara Morrison for Recode: Then there’s Cuebiq, which collected location data through its SDK and shared that information with the New York Times for multiple articles about how social distancing changed as stay-at-home orders were lifted and states reopened. This was just a few months after the newspaper gave Cuebiq’s location collection practices a much more critical eye in an expansive feature, and shows a possible shift in public opinion...

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Protecting your mobile data and privacy while at a protest

Maddy Varner reporting for The Markup: “All protesting and all marches are a series of balancing acts of different priorities and acceptable risks,” said Mason Donahue, a member of Lucy Parsons Labs, a Chicago-based group of technologists and activists that run digital security training classes and have investigated the Chicago Police Department’s use of surveillance technology. “There is a lot of communication ability that goes away if you don’t bring...

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Privacy algorithm could lead to Census undercount of small towns

To increase anonymity in the Census records, the bureau is testing an algorithm that removes real people and inserts imaginary people in various locations. As you can imagine, this carries a set of challenges. Gus Wezerek and David Van Riper for New York Times Opinion ask what effects this could have on small towns. Tags: census, counting, New York Times, privacy

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To get your personal data, provide more personal data

File another one under the sounds-good-on-paper-but-really-challenging-in-practice. Kashmir Hill, for The New York Times, describes the challenges of new laws that allow users to request the data that companies collect on them: Since then, two groups of researchers have demonstrated that it’s possible to fool the systems created to comply with G.D.P.R. to get someone else’s personal information. One of the researchers, James Pavur, 24, a doctoral student at Oxford University,...

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One leaked file, the location of 12 million smartphones

A file leaked to The New York Times contained location traces of 12 million unique smartphones. Stuart A. Thompson and Charlie Warzel went digging: The data set is large enough that it surely points to scandal and crime but our purpose wasn’t to dig up dirt. We wanted to document the risk of underregulated surveillance. Watching dots move across a map sometimes revealed hints of faltering marriages, evidence of drug...

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Amazon stores voice recordings indefinitely

Alfred Ng for CNET: Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware, sent a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in May, demanding answers on Alexa and how long it kept voice recordings and transcripts, as well as what the data gets used for. The letter came after CNET’s report that Amazon kept transcripts of interactions with Alexa, even after people deleted the voice recordings. The deadline for answers was June...

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